I know the feeling well!
Confession time – I have a tendency to overthink
This’ll be no surprise to my family and close friends who’ve long suffered the effects!
But there are certain triggers for this nasty habit of mine to creep in unannounced and bring on the exhaustion of driving myself crazy going round each possibility over and over again to find the best solution. Especially – but not always – if the decision will impact other people in some way.
And starting a business? Well that just bought on more opportunity for the little gremlins to appear and wreak havoc so it’s been a whole new – ongoing – learning experience for me!
I know I’m not the only one to suffer this, well frankly, pain in the ARSE problem! So I don’t need to elaborate on the consequences of overthinking every little thing in life:
- Missed opportunities
- Relationship strain
And so many other things – which all can ultimately lead to depression if we don’t learn how to deal with this nuisance!
WE manage IT, it doesn’t manage US
I came to the conclusion a while back that overthinking is just one of my foibles, so I’m not in the “let’s fix it” camp with this.
Hear me out and read on though before you ditch this blog in frustration!
The likelihood is that you experience overthinking and all it brings because you’re a wonderful, sensitive human being. And that definitely doesn’t need fixing! (If you’ve been following me, you’ll already know my thoughts on whether people need ‘fixing’!)
Don't drown in it, Work with it
5 tips from a recovering overthinker
Here are 5 of my “go to” remedies to help free you from the exhaustion of overthinking. Use them independently or together, but give them a go, and they WILL help you find clarity.
Recognising that you’ve slipped past the point of giving something due consideration into overthinking is a great start point.
So now you’ve recognised it, forget the “what ifs” you’ve been focusing on, and spend a few minutes considering the “what IS” reality of right now.
Specifically – who’s perspective are you looking at this situation from?
If you’re guessing other people’s perspective of the situation and trying to factor in their thoughts and feelings, realise that they might be very different to the assumptions you’ve made from all the different scenarios your head’s dragged you through.
Ask people how they feel about it if necessary, but remember to consider YOUR perspective. What do YOU want, need, feel about this?
Accepting that some things are out of our control is sometimes the only way to get out of the slump of overthinking.
If you’ve thought something over, and can’t see a solution, there might not be one. It might be time to accept that, and let the situation play out without trying to control it.
Being a perfectionist will make this even harder, so remember to be kind to yourself and instead of trying to perfect and control every little detail, accept that you won’t and just ‘do’. It’s scary, but it helps you, trust me.
Giving yourself a time limit to think about this one subject is really effective. Go ahead – actually set a timer. 5 minutes, 10 minutes, whichever you need. Never more than 30-minutes, and only that long if you’re going to journal or ‘brain dump’ to get all your thoughts out of your head and onto paper.
When the timer finishes, you have 2 choices:
- Take Action! If you’ve reached a decision, or found your answer, get to it!
- Distraction! If the answer still isn’t obvious, put it all away and do something different that’ll hold your focus. Go for a walk, pick up a book, play with the kids, whatever it is you’re going to enjoy doing that’ll take your focus right away from the ‘problem’ you’ve been ruminating over. (You’ll love this one for the enjoyment, but also for the ‘lightbulb’ moment that’ll come to you in the process!)
Friends and family are a great source of comfort for an overthinker, and this can help in more ways than one.
Be honest with someone close to you and let them know you struggle with overthinking (if they know you well, they’ve probably figured that out already).
Ask them to give you a ‘head’s up’ if they notice you overthinking something (but try not to bite their head off for doing what you’ve asked! Remember, they’re not criticising, they’re trying to help you).
If it’s the first time you’ve confided, let them know it’s reared it’s head and you’re suffering right now. It’s important to be specific about what you want help with – do you want to talk it out because you know that usually helps you find your own solution; or do you want their advice rather than merely being a sounding board?
"Everything is Figureoutable" - Marie Forleo
Everything has a way of working out
If you haven’t read it Marie Forleo’s book, I recommend it! I know that when you’re trying to reach a decision and struggling with the gremlins of overthinking, hearing something like “everything is figureoutable” might not feel especially helpful, but it’s true.
Think back to all the times you’ve struggled with this before now – I bet you that every one of those times has seen a resolution! Might not have been the perfect one, or in a way you wanted, but my point is that you’re not still overthinking that same thing now.
Remember that nobody knows EVERYthing. It’s easy to assume other people do, but they really don’t. And you don’t have to either.
Give yourself a break and remember it’s ok to sometimes let the dice roll and see what happens – because it WILL work out!
And it doesn’t HAVE to be you alone that controls how something plays out.
Surround yourself with “your” people who will happily and willingly support you. …and in my case, give me a big ol’ kick up the arse when I need it.